Saturday, September 7, 2013

In India Rupee Goes Down: Rape Goes Up!

September 7,2013
By Saeed Qureshi

While the incidence of rape is soaring in India, the rupee is falling steeply. From 54 rupees per dollar in May this year it has dipped to Rs.65 to date. There is a likelihood of its further plunge in the coming days if not arrested by effective measures. Let us deal with rape situation first.

India seems to be caught up between two mammoth crises. One is the moral meltdown and the other is the economic downturn. The societies do suffer from setbacks. But it also devolves upon the leadership to overcome such ugly monstrosities and put a halt to those setbacks in a competing world.

India has been neck and neck with China in economic growth.The economic debacle has lowered Indian ranking to 60, as mentioned in the annual Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014, released by Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF). It is distressing for India because it is 31 points lower than her regional rival China.

Statistically every 20 minute a rape of a female takes place in India. Recently there has been a spate of agonizing and atrocious rape incidents in India. Doing masturbation in front of women in public places is a common spectacle. The gang rape by five males of a 23-year old medical student on December 16 last year in a bus is the most outrageous incident that shook the entire India and the world beyond. As a result of that brutal attack she died two weeks later.

Now as recent as August 22 another horrific rape of a photojournalist was committed in Mumbai. One can imagine how sinister and ugly the situation is getting in the largest democracy of the world.

The story of Rose Chasm a Chicago university student who stayed in India for studies is nerve shattering. In her article, “India: The Story You Never Wanted to Hear” viewed by over a million people, she shares her account of personally “experiencing repeated sexual harassment and the way travelers and local women folks were s were exposed to this insidious epidemic in India” Some extracts of her poignant article titled, India: the Story You Never Wanted to Hear “are reproduced hereunder:

For three months I lived this way, in a traveler's heaven and a woman's hell. I was stalked, groped, masturbated at; and yet I had adventures beyond my imagination.”

“This is the story you don't want to hear when you ask me about India. But this is the story you need. There was no way to prepare for the eyes, the eyes that every day stared with such entitlement at my body.”

“When people ask me about my experience studying abroad in India, I always face the same dilemma. How does one convey the contradiction that over the past few months has torn my life apart, and convey it in a single succinct sentence?”

Let me quote another observation from a report published in AP and penned by Nirmala George. She writes,
“Rapes in India remain drastically under-reported. In many cases, families do not report rapes due to the stigma that follows the victim and her family. In other instances, families may decide not to report a rape out of frustration with the long delays in court and harassment at the hands of the police. Police themselves are reluctant to register cases of rape and domestic violence in order to keep down crime figures or to elicit a bribe from the victim.”

In a fiendish propensity for raping underage and very young children of late, several cases have been reported in the Indian press. One such horrific incident was of a four years old girl raped on April 17. She died in hospital nearly two weeks after she was raped and found unconscious at a farm. One can also reckon how other countless rape incidents remain unnoticed particularly in villages and dense urban areas where a pall of aloofness and fear of stigma deters the victims from disclosures.

In a recent report, the “Asian Center for Human Rights” cited statistics in which it showed that 48,338 child rape cases were reported in India between 2001 and 2011. The report said that the number of cases rose from 2,113 in 2001 to 7,112 in 2011.

ABC’s South Asia correspondent Michael Edwards in his August 20 article paints a dismal picture of the dwindling state of Indian economy. He quotes Mark Colvin as commenting that, “One of the world’s biggest economies is heading towards a crisis. India’s currency, the rupee, has crashed to record lows and its stock market is experiencing serious falls." 

"To add to India’s problems, capital is also flowing out of the country at what economists describe as dangerous levels. Analysts argue that investor frustration at the slow pace of economic reform is a major part of the problem. Others point to a lack of political leadership.”

In his most objective analysis of the fledgling Indian economy, Arvind Subramanian in his article published by New York Times on August 30 writes that, “Growth has slowed to 4.4 percent a year; the rupee is in free fall, resulting in higher prices for imported goods; and the specter of a potential crisis, brought on by rising inflation and crippling budget deficits, looms.”

He apportions the blame for this crippling economic downturn to, “The current government, which took office in 2004, has made two fundamental errors. First, it assumed that growth was on autopilot and failed to address serious structural problems. Second, flush with revenues, it began major redistribution programs, neglecting their consequences: higher fiscal and trade deficits.”

India is the second most populous country after China. Its present population of 1.21 billion is projected to be the world's most populous country by 2025, surpassing China. Correspondingly the socio-economic challenges would also exacerbate with the growth of population. If far reaching strategies are not evolved to forestall the population growth or create additional resources, there is going to be complete mayhem in India.

India is beset with a plethora of ethnic and racial mosaic. It is also bedeviled with draconian caste system that somehow hinders an even handed socio economic uplift. The dillats or untouchables and also the religious minorities remain marginalized. India is a secular society by constitution but practically the people go by their religious obligations. 

That is why one can witness cows, apes and occasionally elephant in Indian streets. The round wheel on the Indian flag and otherwise the displays of Indian sacred weapon Trishool are manifestations of preponderance for Hinduism. Like Pakistan and other religious dominated country, there is a predominant section of population that comprises die-hard and fanatic Hindu extremists. They protest vehemently and even go on rampage against the minorities particularly Muslims in case of a dispute such as Babri mosque.

India is certainly advancing comically but it still falls short of eradicating rampant poverty and raising the quality of life as China has done. China being a one party system can enforce her decisions effectively. India being a democracy has to seek consensus for watershed decisions.

The infrastructure in India has been markedly improved over the years but still one can see the slums and ghettos in big cities. It would take a great deal of efforts and time for India to put on the grab of a veritable modern state.

Like other third world countries in India to there is endemic corruption and manipulation of state funds by the influential sections and misuse of power for personal gains at every level from top to bottom.

India is also plagued by a multitude of separatist movements. That challenge is the most formidable because it fractures and at least poses a grave danger to the Indian territorial integrity. Moreover it puts enormous financial burden on the Indian economy. No one could forebode how long it would take India to bridle, tame or overcome insurgencies for separation from the Indian federation.

The cardinal issue of Kashmir between India and Pakistan on one hand and Tibet with China on the other are formidable deflections that would continue to bog down India till these are resolved.   Once these territorial disputes are resolved India would be free to divert the funds now being spent on these issues to development and reconstruction.


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